Above: Emer Hickey, centre, pictured with members of Irish Girl Guides marking International Day of the Girl in the Irish Film Institute, Dublin
Kinsale Young Scientist winner and Irish Girl Guides volunteer, Emer Hickey, joined members of IGG and World Vision celebrating the importance of girls’ education at a special event the two organisations held in the Irish Film Institute, Dublin, to mark International Day of the Girl on October 11.
Following a screening of Girl Rising – a critically-acclaimed film (with narration by Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep) that gives a fascinating insight into the lives of four girls born into poverty in different parts of the globe and the difference that education can make – Emer told audience members how she hoped that her prize-winning research might one day help eradicate famine in developing countries.
The success of Emer and her Kinsale Community School team mates, Ciara Judge and Sophie Healy-Thow, in increasing the germination rate of barley and oats by as much as 50 per cent led to their scooping top prizes in the BT Young Scientist and European Young Scientist competitions in 2013 and the grand prize at the Google Science Fair in California in 2014.
Emer told audience members at the Day of the Girl event that they would never have been able to achieve what they had without the benefit of a good education. Acknowledging that tens of millions of girls in developing countries did not have the same kind of educational opportunities that girls have in Ireland, she said: “Education can help girls in developing countries because it opens new opportunities to girls in areas in which they didn’t previously have access to, such as science. New knowledge can be applied to their daily lives as they help not only themselves but their families too.
“My project was inspired by my gardening and, because of the education system here in Ireland, I was able to further my findings. If girls all over the world had access to education, they too could put their simple ideas to use and who knows what they would discover!”
World Vision Ireland’s CEO, Helen Keogh, said “Extreme poverty often prevents girls from getting an education, leaving them vulnerable to the worst kinds of exploitation. The aim of World Vision’s work is to eradicate poverty so that all girls and boys, regardless of where they are born, have the best opportunity in life.
“Girl Rising captures the dreams and voices of four girls and shows how they have each harnessed an awe-inspiring inner strength, which allows them bravely stand up and be counted while refusing to accept the fate others chose for them.
“World Vision Ireland supports two of the girls in the film – Azmera and Ruksana. Both these girls have overcome obstacles to pursue their right to an education and their stories are told beautifully through the film. Heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time, they leave viewers feeling inspired by their strength and determined to play a part in creating a more equal world.
“Girl Rising is not just a film, but also a movement dedicated to achieving educational equity for girls around the world.”